Smoke signals

Smoke signals

• Injured starter Justin Masterson, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 2 because of a strained left oblique, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday.

"He feels good, so the plan is for him to throw a bullpen tomorrow, and then we'll kind of go from there," Francona said Thursday. "And the only reason we haven't said really more about it is because we're trying to be fair to Masty. He's done such a good job of getting to this point. I think it's been 16 days. That's absurdly quick."

• If the Indians end up snagging one of the two AL Wild Card spots, they'll have to decide which pitcher to start on Oct. 2 in the one-game showdown. Francona hasn't begun thinking about who that might be.

"No. I don't allow myself to ever do that," Francona said. "We need to get there."

Ubaldo Jimenez entered his Thursday start with a 9-6 record and a 2.52 ERA over his last 20 starts, dating back to May 27. In that span, Jimenez's ERA ranks second in the AL (behind only Bartolo Colon's 2.15 mark) and sixth in baseball.

Mark Emery is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.